The following list provides information on research projects currently underway at Rutgers Center for State Health Policy. To help you navigate, projects are classified by focus area and include the project name, funder, a brief description, and a link if you would like to request additional information.
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The Impact of Environmental Changes on Children’s BMI and Behaviors: A Panel Study
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
This five-year project is conducting a controlled evaluation of the impact of changes in the food and physical activity (PA) environments on childhood obesity and related behaviors in five New Jersey cities. These cities have been targeted for interventions by major initiatives, affording the opportunity to conduct a natural experiment. The study aims are to advance our understanding of the relationship between elements of the environment and childhood obesity and related behaviors, assess the impact of specific environmental interventions, and demonstrate an innovative methodology for controlled evaluation of community interventions. The research design relies upon a prospective, longitudinal study of a randomly selected panel of 1,200 children in these cities. The research team collected comprehensive baseline data on obesity-related behaviors and body mass index in 2009-2010 in a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The data also include documentation of the food and physical activity environments to which these children were exposed (geo-coded for analysis). Comprehensive data collection on children will be repeated in four years and relevant changes in the environment will be monitored over the same period. Changes may include presence of new opportunities for healthy eating or physical activity (e.g., new supermarkets, playgrounds); significant enhancement of existing ones (e.g., addition of healthy foods to convenience stores, expanded physical education in schools), as well as non-intervention related change (e.g., retail outlets that close). Individual-level exposure will be measured by proximity of the environmental change to each child’s residence (using geo-spatial methods). The analysis will evaluate the impact of exposure to these changes on a comprehensive set of outcomes including behaviors relevant to food consumption and PA as well as weight status. The research design facilitates an exceptional degree of control in isolating the effects of particular intervention strategies and promises to make a significant contribution to enhancing prevention efforts.
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New Jersey Family Health Survey (NJFHS)
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
A 2009 survey of a representative sample of 2,500 New Jersey families gathered data on:
- Health insurance coverage
- Health care access, utilization, and satisfaction with special emphasis on emergency department use, health literacy, and the doctor-patient relationship
- Health-related behaviors and perceptions including physical activity and nutrition
- Health status and attitudes about health care
- Demographic, socioeconomic, and employment characteristics
The 2009 NJFHS interviews were conducted by landline and wireless telephones. The sample was designed to enable in-depth analysis of two groups of special policy interest: young adults and low-income families. Sampling weights assure that the NJFHS is demographically representative of all New Jersey household residents. The 2009 NJFHS provides an update of the 2001 New Jersey Family Health Survey on key measures of the health and health care of New Jersey residents.
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